Psychology + Zen = Philosophy and methods to relieve suffering and reveal happiness.

Psychology:  We project onto others what we reject in ourselves.  Some call it a Shadow.  Healing comes from making the unconscious conscious, taking responsibility for our projections, integrating what is split off as our own thing. 

Zen:  There is no separate self.  When we can be at one with every aspect, then we belong everywhere and we reject no one.  

We heal the world by becoming intimate with our whole selves.   


Thursday
Aug112016

In Defense of Marie Kondo, or, Insider Feminism

Does it spark joy?  If not, let it go.  

It's easy to mock this instruction from the adorable and slightly insane master of tidiness, Marie Kondo, but I contend that it is an invitation to a radical revolution. Master Kondo advises us not to engage with a thing in the usual way.  Don't read the book or try on the clothing; hold it to your heart and notice what you feel. 

"Pay close attention to how your body responds when you do this.  When something sparks joy, you should feel a little thrill, as if the cells in your body are slowly rising.  When you hold something that doesn't bring you joy, however, you will notice that your body feels heavier."

Attention to rising cells is revolutionary; it changes everything.

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Monday
Aug012016

The Main Point, or, a Few Ignoble Truths

You may have noticed that I've been gone a while.  I've been busy doing nothing.  What happened is that I had a pretty good idea and I started to write, but then it went sideways and I had a hundred more ideas, and they led to a hundred more, so I started jotting everything down, and it was all connected, so I couldn't finish it, or, rather, them.  I suffered. 

So I decided to step back and remember the main point.  

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Monday
Sep072015

Really Undoing Racism

The parade of slayings and obscene statistics have finally yanked our attention to the crime of racism in America.  Eyes open, horrified and heartbroken, we march and protest.  "Black Lives Matter!" chant Whites and Blacks together, coming together to rise up and defeat the oppressor, or at least get him to put a camera on.  

Several months ago, during a formal conversation on healing racism, a zen teacher--Kodo Sensei, the first Black woman to receive dharma transmission, asked a question that sounded to me like "What's in it for White People?"   The question spun itself around in my guts like a sharply angled koan.

For one thing, White people want

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Tuesday
Jun022015

Yes, Doctor. May I see your computer?

It started out well enough.  The pain specialist in the spine department--let's call him Dim--was friendly and respectful, and did a quick and gentle exam of my neck.  Then he brought me into his office, offered a seat while he communicated with his computer as he complained that electronic medical records were ruining his practice.  I sympathized; he continued on about how this keeps him up at night, then asked me many questions that had nothing to do with my neck, presumably required by the machine he was facing.

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Tuesday
Feb242015

Rise up, Old Woman!

Julianne, photo by Nicolas Genin"Well, she is more contemporary," the young lady clarified when I looked mystified. We were at a networking event for filmmakers and actors, and I had boldly raised my objection to the disappearance of older women.  She responded by kindly offering hope that things were changing, and presented Julianne Moore as an example of an aging star.  Thinking hard, she filled out her list of two by including an actress in her 30s.

Her 30s.

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Thursday
Jan152015

Zen Retreat Redux: Sit. Stay.  

I didn't see it coming.  

Unlike the high drama and torture of last year, this zen retreat was relatively uneventful, which is to say it was a veritable cauldron of long-forgotten demons, physical pain, boredom, and large helpings of bliss.   Nothing special.  So, when I came home I was surprised to discover vast swaths of freedom in my life where previously there were tiny little congested closets.

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Saturday
Jan102015

Is Birdman Pretending?

Even before I saw Birdman, a Facebook debate captured my attention.   One avid intellectual questioned why another would call a movie pretentious if it aspires to be arty rather than sensational.  My first attempt to see it was foiled by a sold-out house, but finally I managed to score a seat.  Already by the opening sequence--so beautiful and evocative--I felt little bubbles of happiness, and then the sight of Michael Keaton's naked back, levitating while meditating, was strangely moving.

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Monday
Dec152014

Black Lives Matter

My heart filled with hope when I witnessed this march, both because of the energetic young black leadership and because of the honesty and participation of white folk.  sorry I didn't realize I could turn my new iphone sideways, but still...

Thursday
Oct022014

Demons and Death.  @clown

It's not all fun and games.  That ridiculous clown up there making us laugh has an inner life too, and sometimes it hurts.  In a profound and quite enjoyable workshop with master clown René Bazinet, the topic of demons popped up.  Rewarded for their failures, applauded for their most embarrassing moments, clowns are reinforced for roughly the opposite of what is normal behavior. For those who lap up attention and approval (are there really performers who don't?), such conditions can produce some mighty twisted stuff.  Amy G, photo by Ian DarsonSo in performances that invite intimacy and truth, we are sure to see clown innards

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Tuesday
Sep232014

Purpose and Politics

My Honeymoon in Chernobyl, photo by Ian DarsonDo clowns have a purpose?  Those of you who are old enough may understand what happens as you begin to glimpse mortality.On occasion at least, the inclination to cling to this narrow self drops away and we begin to consider what we transmit to the ever-changing world in which we have such a teeny cameo.  Whether or not we plan it, we do transmit, and so it is with clowns, but some use the platform to show us something important.

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